Farming Joy as a Crop

Photo of our hobby farm barn by Margie Johnson

By Mike Johnson

I loved mornings at the hobby farm.
800 miles from Wapiti, the six-acre spread was located deep in the southern Minnesota corn and soybean fields.
New owners, nobody knew us.
We were well-known in Wyoming, so anonymity here was delicious luxury.

The area was new to us too, making exploration never-ending adventure and surprise.

Out the door at dawn with the dogs, Id walk 75 yards to the 1946 barn.
It had been skinned with metal roof and siding a couple decades ago.
The thick, old timber beams inside would be forever protected.
They don't make that kind of lumber anymore.

Id slide the three outer doors open and inhale a lungful of the pungent, sweet barn aroma.
Ahhh.
Farm.

Next, I opened the four windows on the side. A light breeze flowed through, bringing the field smells in.
The road to Edgerton or Pipestone was visible half a mile away. The neighbors dairy farm was a mile north of that.
No mountains like Wapiti, but vast crop fields stretching to the horizon held their own beauty.

The same family had owned the farmstead for 85 years. A son had split off 200 acres for corn and soybeans. Our portion used to raise up to 300 pigs.

Here for 150 days each spring/summer, anything was now possible. Most days we spent mowing, trimming, painting, dump-hauling and rehabbing.
Some days we ran to town for building supplies.
Others, we dropped the work and just explored towns within 50 miles.

Our driveway was a full block long, separating us from the closest neighbors. The barn was at the rear of our property, even more private.
With 11 out-buildings, the compound felt like an estate.
It was stimulating and joyful just standing there.

This was ten years ago. The place only cost $79,900 and included a forested grove and large farmhouse.
It needed work, hence the great deal. But it nestled in an agriculture area with many amazing deals.
We learned the great secret that you can live large, on the cheap, in rural, small-town America.

Our town of 53 only had two businesses.
A seed warehouse and a small bar/restaurant.

I imagined buying the bar/restaurant and closing it for my own use as the ultimate man cave.
It was only $65,000 and a two-block walk up my driveway.
Buddy Holly had played in the Hatfield Hollyhock Dance Hall before it burned down on the same property.
The rebuilt bar/restaurant later closed on its own, dropping the price lower.
Had I kept the farm, Id have bought it for sure.

We only owned the farm for two years. We completed its rehab and sold the property to a family of five in 2013.

We worked like dogs but the location and experience was so joyful we only remember the joy.

Just the way it should be.

Our work was the rehab, our crop was a nice property for a nice family.
We invested $60,000 plus our labor and sold the farm for $179,900 (still cheap!). It was a profitable return for all concerned.
But the real harvest was joy.

Thanks to pleasant memories, that payment never ends.

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More:

Our "Red Barn Farm" Sales Flyer

The Day We Nearly Bought The Field of Dreams

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